Clean house, Clean start

It seems my house always needs cleaning.

That’s probably because, with seven people living in it, 6 of them under 18 (and 5 under 10!), my house never seems clean. There’s always stuff on the floor, fingerprints on the windows, and spots on the wall. Unfortunately, with so many little people, and so many other things to do, it seems house cleaning is always the last thing on my list of things to do. I get busy, and it’s easy to justify procrastinating on this.

I know a clean house makes everyone feel better. And having a clean home is essential to good health! But some days, when there’s so much to do to make life happen, house cleaning is often last on the list. And I run out of time, energy and initiative long before I get to the chores.

Housekeeping isn’t a priority

Are you like me? Is housekeeping the last thing on your list? Personally, I’d rather do just about anything else besides cleaning. In fact, I’m behind on some things, and I’m writing this blog post instead. (I should probably go finish up the dishes.. be right back..)

It’s a new year, so I want a clean start! It’s time to tweak my house cleaning routines, to make them better serve my family. My housekeeping chores are kept up-to-date with my rotating calendar system. This works well, however, I think there are some changes I can make to improve it. 

1. Schedule it!

While I have a system that helps me keep track of what needs to be done every day, it doesn’t help me with when I should be doing it during the day. So I need to schedule it into my daily routines. That way there’s room for it in my day-to-day life.

So house cleaning needs to go on the calendar. If it’s not written down, it probably won’t get done. And since obviously house cleaning needs to be done, regularly and frequently, it must be written down on my calendar.

There are a few ways you can do this. You can block off the time for chores, and just do whatever needs doing during that time. Or you could write down the tasks that you want to have done that day at the top (not the bottom — it’s already there!!) of your to-do list. For me, I’m going to do both. I’m going to tweak my routines to include some set-aside time for chores in my day, and I’m going to start copying from my index cards onto my to-do list for my day.

Realistically, it doesn’t take as long as you think to do just a few things each day. And if you do a few things each day, you get a lot done in a week’s time. It all adds up! If you don’t believe me, grab a timer and time yourself loading a dishwasher, sweeping a floor, or even wiping out the microwave. When I did this exercise, it was eye-opening!

2. Delegate it!

There are seven people living in this home. Why is it that only I do all the cleaning? My children are more than old enough to be helping out. So this is a great time to re-evaluate the chores my kids do, and make sure everyone has the right amount of age-appropriate jobs.

I start my helpers as young as I can get them. Even a toddler can wipe with a washcloth or rag. And I’ve often joked about tying sponges to a crawling baby in the summer time, just to help clean up the floors. But I’ve learned that if I can teach my girls how to clean when they are still young and eager to help, getting them to clean when they are older becomes a lot easier. Because they already know how to do it and they are used to doing chores with me, they become confident in doing the same things on their own. So there’s less resistance.

My index card task tracking chore system makes delegating easier. I can just hand out the cards to each child, according to their ability. (Fun fact: My girls argue over whose turn it is to vacuum!) When there are 6 of us cleaning (because the baby is a bit too young yet), it’s amazing how quickly we can transform a room from disaster to spotless!

3. Outsource it!

So here’s the deal. Even though I can be more deliberate about scheduling time to clean, and I have all these helpers, there’s still times where we just can’t keep up. And then, I need help. So I outsource my housekeeping chores!

Sometimes outsourcing means I order pizza (outsourcing cooking!). Sometimes it means that I get a babysitter or send the kids to a playdate so I can catch up (outsourcing childcare!). Or I spend one of the weekends they are at their dad’s cleaning rather than working. But most of the time, outsourcing means I hire a cleaner.

I hired a cleaner

I used to think hiring a cleaner was a luxury that only the wealthy could afford. And, believe me, as a single mom, even though I work for myself, I am far from wealthy! The truth is, cleaners don’t cost as much as I thought. And a professional (or even just someone who’s focused) can do much more than I can on my own. So that $50-100 is well spent, in my opinion.

For the last year, I’ve hired a cleaner at least once a month. It has been both a good and bad experience. It’s been great, in that I’ve had a professional come and clean my home. It’s been bad because I now procrastinate even more! I keep thinking, “Oh I’ll leave that for the cleaner to do when she comes.” Then something comes up, and the cleaner doesn’t always come when I thought they would. And that means that the things I was putting off don’t get done as often as they did when I was doing it all myself.

Maybe I just need to hire a weekly housekeeper.

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